Your suburban home will not offer true cover

Saturday, June 25th, 2022

Your suburban home will not offer true cover:

Tested against gypsum drywall (Sheetrock), .22 LR cartridges penetrated eight inches, while higher velocity and larger calibers, like .22 Magnum or 9mm and .45, penetrated up to 12 inches. Note that each panel is usually 5/8ths of an inch thick.

Against cinder block, only bullets larger than 9mm caused structural damage. It took multiple shots to crack the block. One .357 Magnum round would “chunk” the brick and multiple rounds caused the brick to fail. Various sources have reported that anything smaller than 9mm will not seriously damage cinder block, but multiple shots from larger calibers may damage the block sufficiently to penetrate.

Shotgun slugs easily penetrated drywall and destroyed cinder blocks; shot tended to ricochet off the blocks without causing damage. Buckshot penetrated 12 inches of drywall and birdshot penetrated two inches.

Canadian researchers fired .38 Special, 9mm, and .40 caliber rounds from handguns and found a third to two-thirds loss of velocity after bullets exited a simulated stucco exterior wall. Wood and vinyl siding covered walls caused about a 15% loss of velocity after penetration. Stucco walls were the most durable, which would slow a standard range type bullet down to about half-velocity.

However, bullets traveling at even 500-700 feet per second are deadly.


Clay and concrete bricks (solid) exhibited strong bullet resistance. Large-caliber high-velocity hunting rounds (7mm-.30 caliber) created holes and cracks but did not penetrate. This is consistent with US military testing that multiple rounds centered in one place were required to penetrate solid blocks.


  1. Szopen says:

    Well, I guess this pertains to the US only. Here we’re building old style. My house’s exterior walls are 24 cm silka (~9.44 inches), plus warming (styropian) and plaster. Interior walls 12 cm silka (with load bearing walls 24cm).

  2. Grasspunk says:

    Didn’t we have a discussion about the benefits of limestone walls? Cannon balls just sunk into the walls of that fort in Florida, IIRC.

  3. Isegoria says:

    Yes, the Castillo de San Marcos is Florida’s cannonball-eating Spanish fort:

    Built from coquina — sedimentary rock formed from compressed shells of dead marine organisms — the walls suffered little damage from the British onslaught. As one Englishman described it, the rock “will not splinter but will give way to cannon ball as though you would stick a knife into cheese.”

  4. Isegoria says:

    I’m not sure what silka is, but American homes tend to have a wood frame and gypsum board (“drywall”) interior walls. The exterior might have fiber-cement siding, but not enough to be bulletproof.

  5. Wang Wei Lin says:

    I was never under the delusion that my basic 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house with plywood and vinyl exterior would protect me from small arms fire. Building a new house with metal plates under the drywall around doors and windows would be a simple upgrade for a frame house.

  6. Kunning Drueger says:

    One should keep in mind how wildly unrealistic testing like this is. Bullets are about as consistent as a female eyewitness. This is not to say that houses are actually bulletproof, rather the ballistic dynamics get pretty strange when you start adding variables. I think Wang Wei Lin’s idea is a capital one, and I bet a few handy fellows could probably build a very successful business “ruggedizing” houses. In this vein, if anyone is interested and has the excess cash, these guys* are well regarded and trusted by industry professionals, on both sides of the law. They have multiple levels, and they can modify your vehicle or purchase one for you. Take a look at where they have there operations; that alone should tell you of their quality and experience.


  7. Ezra says:

    Make improvised fighting [or protective] positions out of furniture and sandbags [or cinder blocks]. If your house built on a slab OK. If not, support from the basement to where the position is on the above floor might be needed. In an emergency cut off the electricity, water, natural gas. Have halon fire extinguishers available.

  8. McChuck says:

    The easiest and cheapest way to harden an existing home is to add an 16″-24″ decorative brick wall or facing around it. Especially if you use two courses.

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